FOOD: The Duke of Groceries

A powerful newcomer has arisen in the U.S. wholesale grocery business. Under the very noses of the alpaca-sleeved grocer barons, dapper, cold-eyed Nathan Cummings, 47, has fashioned himself a duchy. Cummings, boss of Chicago and Baltimore's Sprague Warner-Kenny Corp., wound up in twelve hours of feverish trading a deal that made him a real power in the business.

For about $1,500,000 Grocer Cummings bought up some 85% of the stock of Western Grocer Co. of Marshalltown, Iowa, one of the biggest wholesale grocers between the Mississippi and the Rockies. By this stroke, he...

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